Tuesday, June 05, 2007

There is no such thing as racial profiling: My students are a pretty PC bunch, so once in a while I have to provoke them. I asked in class the other day, what would people think of the statement that there is no such thing as racial profiling. A Mexican-American students raises his hand and tells me he knows it happens because one time he was just walking into some store, and all of a sudden some cop slams him up to the ground. Then the officer tells him it was a mistake--they were searching for a suspect who looked like him.

So I asked the student if the cop would have done the same thing if he were an elderly Latino woman. He said no, and I replied, why not--she's Latino. He guessed that the police were looking for a young male Mexican. I jokingly said they were going around slamming 5 year old Hispanic boys? More seriously, I said, oh so this is case of age profiling, or maybe a case of gender profiling.

Then I asked if he would have been grabbed if he were a skinny 7 foot Mexican. He answered probably not, and I told him they must have been profiling a person with medium height and a stocky build (like him). So, evidently, they were "body-size profiling." I asked what he was wearing, and when he said jeans and a white T-shirt, I asked him if they would have targeted him if he was in a limo in a rented tux--he said maybe not. So I told him that maybe they were clothes profiling. Then, I pointed out his tattoos on his arms and suggested that the suspect probably had those too.

They were getting the point, so I summed it up by saying that profiling is always a multi-factor thing, and it is arbitrary and political to call it racial. Not surprisingly, the white students seem to like it when I talk like this, while it chafes blacks and Hispanics.


  1. worrier, not a narc2:01 PM

    You probably shouldn't put identifiable stuff like this out.

  2. worrier: I know, I take risks sometimes.

  3. Anonymous4:05 AM

    There are already more than enough clues to figure out "Ron's" identity. I did a few simple web searches and learned his full name, the name of his employer, the city he works in, and where he was educated.

    I wouldn't "out" him, but I wonder if deep down he's not hoping to get "busted."

  4. MarcZ6:35 AM

    What did he say that's so terrible?!

  5. Anonymous7:53 AM

    Anytime you point out that hispanic and black claims of "profiling" are BS, you risk being called racist, intolerant, bigoted, a puppy killer, etc...
    Some fictions can't be challenged because that might hurt the self esteem of certain groups in this country. Also, this kind of thinking could lead to discovering that certain groups are more criminal than whites, asians, etc...That is forbidden. It is best not to even get involved with this kind of stuff, especially in an academic setting

  6. Anon: Why don't you email me and tell me how you found me?

  7. I think racial profiling DOES occur in some instances - frequently, when a crime is committed without any witnesses (b&e, for example), cops will often stop random young black males, because there is a greater chance that the perp fits that cohort than, say, elderly white females.

    Of course you can make a logical argument that they are playing the odds, which is not inherently racist. However, such a practice is now almost universally frowned upon (except by cops, who tend to think that profiling works more often than not, based on past experience).

    Your student's example, however, may be more typical. And you were correct, the example he gave was NOT 'racial profiling'.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Lets see...
    We rail against cops when they dont stop crime.

    We rail against them when they try to stop crime by simple calculation of stopping those who commit more crime (by a margin of 500-900% more)

    They cant win.

  10. When you stop a law-abiding black or Hispanic due to racial profiling, you are in fact inflicting a cost on them. Over their lifetimes, this can add up. Whites do not suffer from this. So there is actually some injustice here.

    But ending all racial profiling is a cure worse than the disease, as we all know. Instead, we need to have some way to compensate innocent profiled people for the inconvenience. This cannot be done perfectly since it's difficult to put an exact value on the inflicted cost, and we have to make sure whatever method of compensation we use is not exploitable. Nevertheless, we should make a well-thought out attempt at this.

  11. dog of justice,

    Whites are arbitrarily stopped by the police in black/Hispanic neighborhoods routinely. This is because those areas have statistically higher rates of crime, and police think a white person in those areas is there to buy drugs, rent a hooker, or commit battery on a minority, etc.

    According to your faulty logic, should white people be paid some debt by society because they can't date somebody who is of a different race and lives in a racially segregated neighborhood? You need to think your bigoted opinions through a bit more before you post them publicly. Blacks and other minorities aren't the only groups who receive undue attention at times.

    Compensation for perceived faults in the attempt to preserve a civilized society? Pure bunk. If a particular person believes that they have been wronged by authorities, they can file a tort case and take their chances. If I were on the jury, I'd advocate for a countersuit for frivolous BS.


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